WPP chief executive Mark Read has laid out plans for employees’ return to work, stressing that it will be a "slow and measured process".
In a memo sent to all staff yesterday (Monday), Read explained that it is "hard to be definitive" about when WPP offices will reopen because the coronavirus situation differs between markets. The business has sites in 112 countries.
He said: "In a few markets in Asia and Europe, we are opening offices now and some people are already starting to come back. In others, including London and New York, even when we do open offices we are not currently expecting significant numbers to return before September or October, and it may well be later."
The note explained that returning to the office is to be voluntary and flexible, with the company taking into account individual situations.
WPP will only open an office "if we believe we can meet the highest of safety standards", meaning there will be limits on the number of people allowed in an office to adhere to social-distancing rules.
An employee’s journey to work will also be taken into account. "We will need to know that people can get to work safely," Read said in the note.
He added: "Finally, we’ve all been thinking about how we want to work in the future and what we can learn from this experience – both personally and professionally. It’s certainly something I’ve asked myself. As we look ahead, we will redesign how we operate around the needs of our people and clients in a changed world.
"To be clear, our priority is to take all necessary precautions for the safety of our people and our communities. The return to offices will be a slow and measured process, with all decisions made in consultation with local leadership and communicated early to give people plenty of notice. In the meantime, we’re working in particular on how best to support the mental and physical well-being of people working from home for long periods."
WPP staff have been working from home for nine weeks.
It is still unclear when businesses in the UK will be reopening offices. Campaign reported last week that a survey by wealth management company Connor Broadley found that most agency financial chiefs do not expect to return to the office before September.